Real Salt Lake, despite sitting third in the Western Conference, will not have any representation at 2023 All-Star Weekend.
Following a 4-0 thrashing to the Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake looked like a team going nowhere. The fourth loss in the team opening fives games had Salt Lake near the foot of the table. The idea of this team having All-Star snubs seemed as ludicrous as Grimace being in the news. Yet, here we are.
Since that dismal defeat to Columbus, Salt Lake has been on a tear, going 9W-7D-3L. The uptick in performance has been a team effort, but a handful of guys have stepped up to turn what looked like a hapless club into a contender.
While every other top-four team in their respective conference features a 2023 All-Star, Real Salt Lake is the lone exception. A “snub” argument can be made for nearly every team across the league but no team has been tricked, backstabbed, and quite possibly bamboozled like the boys at America First Field.
Today, we salute a trio who have led an All-Star-worthy charge up the standings with Real Salt Lake.
At 24, Pablo Ruiz is already an established MLS veteran. Over MLS 100 has prepared the Argentine for his 2023 breakthrough. The dynamo of Pablo Mastroeni’s midfield, Ruiz is a casualty of the midfield depth across MLS. However, we can argue that the midfielder deserves a spot over some of the other selections. Even a Performance of the Year display, in which Ruiz dominated Orlando City and a Goal of the Year contender, was not enough to reach D.C.
Already scoring four goals on the season, including this banger, Ruiz has surpassed his career total (3) and added four assists in 17 appearances. It’s worth mentioning Ruiz also provided one of the most incredible goals
Ruiz’s contributions go beyond slick passes and goal contributions. With an admirable work rate, we can see the midfielder across the pitch chasing and winning balls. His 44.6% tackle win rate vs. dribblers is better than Aidan Morris’, while he’s made more blocks than Matt Miazga.
Following 91 appearances for the club, Savarino left Real Salt Lake to join the Brazilian side Atlético Mineiro. After a little over two successful seasons in Brasileiro, the allure of freezing weather and green Jell-O proved to be too much for Savarino, who rejoined Salt Lake in May 2022.
Immediately upon his MLS return, Savarino made an impact that has continued into 2023. Across his 18 appearances, the winger has been amongst the deadliest in the league. His six goals lead the team and has added three assists from the right flank.
Continuing the trend of familiar faces blossoming for Mastroeni’s squad, none are as familiar as Glad.
2023 has been by far Glad’s most impressive since breaking into the first team. The defender ranks in the top ten in blocked shots and interceptions while chipping in four goals himself.
A constant presence in Salt Lake’s backline, he has been instrumental in leading a defensive turnaround. After conceding 2.6 goals through the first five games of 2023, Real has cut that down to a respectable 1.05 in 19 games since.
Notably, the 26-year-old has improved on the ball, with career highs in passing accuracy (88%) and accurate long balls (60%). Glad’s newfound passing ability adds a threat from the back, helping to propel the Real attack forward.